Nobody Knows Anything....but, as it happens, no one more so than I.

My predictions tens day out:

The Party of Jackson:

Hillary wins a squeaker. Obama second. Edwards a close but, nevertheless, terminal third.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong--but possibly right in spirit.

This was a huge win for Obama. If there were any doubters left before last night (not me), they are running for the hills today. Barack Obama is big time for real. Most importantly, unlike many past insurgents (Gary Hart, Pat Buchanan, Paul Tsongas to name a few), Obama is in great shape money wise and organizationally to move to the next battle with strength and style. He has plenty of money in the coffers and is likely to out-raise Hillary 3-to-1 during the next few days.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is still Hillary Clinton. As I have written previously, she is unlikely to collapse in the face of disappointment. She is an amazing candidate in her own right, with the best national organization in the first-ever "national primary." She has a whole slew of political assets and big guns in her arsenal. Now that the battle is irrevocably and indisputably joined, I expect to see a primary fight over the next five weeks unlike anything we have ever seen in American politics. Fasten your seatbelts, boys; we're in for a bumpy ride.

As for Edwards, his tie for a distant-second seems terminally impotent. For the man who staked his whole campaign on Iowa and started there with a lot of advantages, a seven-point loss in the Hawkeye State to another insurgent is devastating. He was vying to be the alternative to Clinton--but Obama clearly won that distinction. This remains a two-person race. The recently adopted Huey Long populism appears to be a gimmick that failed.

One quick note before the mythology takes root: many will wonder if Hillary erred in coming to Iowa. My opinion is that she really had no choice. Certainly, she understood that Iowa was not a good fit for her and a tough place in which she did NOT play particularly well. Having said that, she would have looked silly and cowardly, if she had sidestepped the caucus. She came, she ran hard, and she lost; It is a tough blow--but watching from the sidelines likely would have proved even more devastating.

One other Clinton note: Bill must take a back seat. After the loss in New Hampshire for George W. Bush in 2000, the elder Bushes (as popular as they were) went underground. A presidential candidate must be the top dog. Bill talks too much, he exudes self-absorption and self importance. Sit down, Bill, and shut up. Quite frankly, the three generations of Rodham-Clinton women are much more compelling at this stage of the contest than the old silver-tongued he-devil.

One last Clinton note: New Hampshire may or may not be do or die for Hill--but she must play it as if it is. New Hampshire saved the Clintons in 1992. She finds herself with her back against the wall there in 2008. NH is crucial. And while Obama will get a big bounce from his win in Iowa, Hillary still holds some high cards in the Granite State. We'll see.

Two random notes:

1. Zogby International was right on. He captured the steep Clinton drop-off in the waning moments of Iowa (he was also close enough on Huckabee, and he had his pulse on the Thompson surge and slight fade--see next post).

2. Hats-off to the Democrats, who boasted a roster of impressive candidates this time around. With the exception of John Edwards, all of the major Democrats struck me as good Americans who approached this contest with sincerity and noble motives (which is not to say, of course, that I agree with their policy proposals). But it is not surprising to me that Democrats in Iowa caucused in record numbers. Some of that was good weather (it only got down to 24 degrees last night in many parts of Iowa), but serious candidates and enthusiastic campaigning are also a large part of the explanation. Impressive.